The Greek air force has formally accepted its first of 30 new F-16C/Ds from Lockheed Martin, with an initial batch of four fighters scheduled to arrive at its Araxos air base in May.

Air force chief of the general staff Lt Gen Ioannis Giagkos accepted the single-seat aircraft during a 19 March ceremony at Lockheed's Fort Worth manufacturing site in Texas. He says the defence and deterrent force of the Greek air force "will be significantly enhanced" following the type's arrival in Greece.

Acquired under a US Foreign Military Sales deal dubbed Peace Xenia IV, Athens' new aircraft are manufactured to the Block 52+ standard, and powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines.

F-16 Greece 1 - LM 
© Lockheed Martin

The US government in January accepted Greece's first F-16C (above) and two-seat D-model aircraft under the deal, with Lockheed saying the milestones were achieved one month ahead of contract schedule.

Lockheed had previously expected to deliver all 30 F-16s this year, but confirms: "The first four aircraft will be ferried to Greece in May, with the remainder following this year and in 2010." The deal is for 20 single-seat aircraft and 10 two-seat trainers.

The Greek air force already operates 131 F-16C/Ds, according to Flight's MiliCAS database. Its new examples will deliver an attrition capability while Athens prepares to revive its long-delayed search for a next-generation strike aircraft.

Greece early this decade selected the Eurofighter Typhoon under a subsequently abandoned deal, but could later this year relaunch a competition to replace its McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms and Vought A-7 Corsairs. Up to 80 aircraft could be required, with deliveries needed by 2010-12.

Source: Flight International